A torturous paradise. This summarises how most hikers who have been to the Elephant Hill inside the Aberdare Forest where the FlySax aircraft crashed describe their experience.
Located about 90 kilometers north of Nairobi via Limuru Road, the hill is an attraction to hikers who are out to either push their bodies beyond the limit, rehearse for tougher hiking adventures or view some of the most spectacular flora and fauna that nature has to offer.
The peak of the Aberdare ranges is known as Elephant Point.
Harsh cold weather, steep terrain and bushes are characteristic of the hill which can also be accessed by a longer route, about 100 kilometers from Nairobi through Thika Road, south of the Aberdare.
Reviews from hikers in the global online travel advisory website, Trip Advisor, point to a hill whose climbing literally requires an elephant-sized spirit.
“I went there with a group of people to climb the hill all the way up. I was invited by a Kenyan colleague and he told me it would be a simple climb. Well...it is true I am not in a perfect shape and I have a sedentary life, but in no way we can say it is a simple climb,” a Trip Advisor reviewer, Clayton J Silva says.
Another reviewer, Janette W has quite a similar observation: “I wouldn't tell a non-hiker to attempt this as their ‘virgin hike’, that would not be fair. Otherwise, for regular hikers, it's a great challenging climb that prepares you for other higher and high-altitude future climbs.”
However, some hikers believe that the effort to climb the hill, even if you won’t make it to the peak is worth it more so because of the spectacular views of a variety of wildlife and exotic vegetation.
“The climb is tough but thankfully the scenery is picturesque. Best started early and if you are not very, very fit, don't try to reach the peak,” says Martin Wahongo who is also a reviewer.
Due to the vast nature of the Aberdares, it is advisable that hikers are accompanied with a guide who is familiar of the routes inside the forest.
True to nature, the weather gets colder as you ascend to the peak and if it is not your lucky day, it might rain before you descend and even get misty.
The ‘Kenyan Backpacker’ described hiking on Elephant Hill as: “The weather at the summit was too cold as the rain had already started. Our clothes were soaked and the hiking boots were full of mud. After lighting a fire to warm ourselves, we headed back to Nairobi. It was a very awesome experience.”